History of the Knights Templar


Post 8666

History of the Knights Templar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of the Order of the Knights Templar as a trans-national military-religious order spans two centuries of the High Middle Ages, from the Order’s founding in the early 12th century to its suppression early in the 14th century.

Al Aqsa Mosque

The Knights Templar trace their origin back to shortly after the First Crusade. Around 1119, an Italian nobleman Ugo de’ Pagani from Nocera de’ Pagani inCampania, southern Italy or Hugues de Payens as known in French, collected eight knights including Godfrey de Saint-Omer,

King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, assigning the captured Al Aqsa Mosqueto Hugues de Payens and Godfrey, to use as their headquarters. The Crusaders called the structure the Temple of Solomon, and it was from this location that the Order tooks its name, as Templars

 

and began the Order, their stated mission to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit the Holy Places. They approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who allowed them to set up headquarters on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock, at the centre of the Mount, was understood to occupy the site of the Jewish Temple. Known to Christians throughout the Muslim occupation of Jerusalem as the Holy of Holies, the Dome of the Rock became a Christian church, the Templum Domini, the Temple of the Lord. But the Templars were lodged in the Aqsa Mosque, which was assumed to stand on the site of Solomon’s Temple. Because the Aqsa mosque was known as the Templum Solomonis, it was not long before the knights had encompassed the association in their name. They became known as the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici – the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, which was eventually shortened to “Knights Templar”.

The original order consisted of Hugues de Payens and eight knights, two of whom were brothers and all of whom were his relatives by either blood or marriage: Godfrey de Saint-Omer, Payne de Monteverdi, Archambaud de St. Agnan, Andre de Montbard, Geoffrey Bison, and two men recorded only by the names of Rossal and Gondamer. The ninth knight remains unknown, although some have speculated that it was Count Hugh of Champagne himself — despite the Count returning to France in 1116 and documentary evidence showing that he joined the Knights on his third visit to the Holy Land in 1125.

Little was heard of the Order for their first nine years. But in 1129, after they were officially sanctioned by the church at theCouncil of Troyes, they became well known in Europe. Their fundraising campaigns asked for donations of money, land, or noble-born sons to join the Order, with the implication that donations would help both to defend Jerusalem, and to ensure the charitable giver of a place in Heaven. The Order’s efforts were helped substantially by the patronage of Bernard of Clairvaux, the leading churchman of the time, and a nephew of one of the original nine knights. The Order at its outset had been subject to strong criticism, especially of the concept that religious men could also carry swords. In response to these critics, the influential Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a multi-page treatise entitled De Laude Novae Militae (“In Praise of the New Knighthood”), in which he championed their mission and defended the idea of a military religious order by appealing to the long-held Christian theory of just war, which legitimized “taking up the sword” to defend the innocent and the Church from violent attack. In doing so, Bernard legitimized the Templars, who became the first “warrior monks” of the Western world.[citation needed] Bernard wrote:

[A Templar Knight] is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.

Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, the Order’s patron

Shortly after its foundation in Jerusalem and due to possible previous links of the founding knights with the crusader Count Henry of Burgundy and with the House of Burgundy, and perhaps because of the family ties that Henry and his son Afonso had with Bernard of Clairvaux, the Knights Templar were already in the western edge of Europe, in the County of Portugal, at least from May 1122.

Henry
Conde D. Henrique - Compendio de crónicas de reyes (Biblioteca Nacional de España).png

Henry in Compendio de crónicas de reyes
(c. 1312 – 1325)
Count of Portugal
Reign 1096 – 1112
Predecessor Raymond
Successor Afonso Henriques
Born c. 1066
Dijon, Burgundy
Died 12 May 1112
Astorga, León
Burial Braga Cathedral, Braga, Portugal
Spouse Teresa of León
Issue
more…
Afonso I of Portugal
House Capetian House of Burgundy
Father Henry of Burgundy
Religion Roman Catholicism

The Templars settled there first, where the Order received donations and bought lands during the successive years of 1122, 1123, 1125, and 1126 (donated by D. Theresa), and 1127–28. Another possible reason for such exceptional early donations before the Council of Troyes, may be the alleged links of one or two founding knights of the Temple in Jerusalem, among the founding French knights of Champagne, Languedoc or other regions, Burgundy and possibly Flanders, with the County of Portugal – being of Portuguese origin, or Franco-Portuguese or Burgundian-Portuguese origin; claims sustained by chroniclers of the Templar Order in Portugal, written in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, supposedly basing themselves on original medieval source material of the Order of Christ.

Donations to the Order were considerable. The King of Aragon, in the Iberian Peninsula, left large tracts of land to the Order upon his death in the 1130s. New members to the Order were also required to swear religious vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and piety, and hand over all of their goods to the monastic brotherhood. This could include land, horses and any other items of material wealth, including labor from serfs, and interest in any businesses.

In 1139, even more power was conferred upon the Order by Pope Innocent II, who issued the papal bull, Omne Datum Optimum. It stated that the Knights Templar could pass freely through any border, owed no taxes, and were subject to no one’s authority except that of the Pope. It was a remarkable confirmation of the Templars and their mission, which may have been brought about by the Order’s patron, Bernard of Clairvaux, who had helped Pope Innocent in his own rise.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux - Gutenburg - 13206.jpg

St Bernard in “A Short History of Monks and Monasteries” by Alfred Wesley Wishart (1900)
Abbot
Confessor
Doctor of the Church
Doctor Mellifluus
Born 1090
Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France
Died 20 August, 1153 (aged 62–63)
Clairvaux, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church
Canonized 18 January 1174, Rome by Pope Alexander III
Major shrine Troyes Cathedral
Ville-sous-la-Ferté, religious vocations, preachers.
Feast 20 August
Attributes White Cistercian habit, devil on a chain, white dog
Patronage Cistercians, Burgundy, beekeepers, candlemakers,Gibraltar, Algeciras, Queens’ College, Cambridge, Speyer Cathedral, Knights Templar

The Order grew rapidly throughout Western Europe, with chapters appearing in France, England, and Scotland, and then spreading to Spain and Portugal. They also made their way to the New World, Nova Scotia and Oak Island.

The Crusades and the Knights Templar[edit]

The Knights Templar were the elite fighting force of their day, highly trained, well-equipped and highly motivated; one of the tenets of their religious order was that they were forbidden from retreating in battle, unless outnumbered three to one, and even then only by order of their commander, or if the Templar flag went down. Not all Knights Templar were warriors. The mission of most of the members was one of support – to acquire resources which could be used to fund and equip the small percentage of members who were fighting on the front lines. There were actually 25 classes within the orders. The highest class was the knight. When a candidate was sworn into the order, the initiation made the knight a monk. They wore white robes. The knights could hold no property and receive no private letters. He could not be married or betrothed and cannot have any vow in any other Order. He could not have debt more than he could pay, and no infirmities. The Templar priest class was similar to the modern day military chaplain. Wearing green robes, they conducted religious services, led prayers, and were assigned record keeping and letter writing. They always wore gloves, unless they were giving Holy Communion. The mounted men-at-arms represented the most common class, and they were called “brothers”. They were usually assigned two horses each and held many positions, including guard, steward, squire or other support vocations. As the main support staff, they wore black or brown robes and were partially garbed in chain mail or plate mail. The armor was not as complete as the knights. Because of this infrastructure, the warriors were well-trained and very well armed. Even their horses were trained to fight in combat, fully armored.[5] The combination of soldier and monk was also a powerful one, as to the Templar knights, martyrdom in battle was one of the most glorious ways to die.

The Templars were also shrewd tacticians, following the dream of Saint Bernard who had declared that a small force, under the right conditions, could defeat a much larger enemy. One of the key battles in which this was demonstrated was in 1177, at the Battle of Montgisard. The famous Muslim military leader Saladin was attempting to push toward Jerusalem from the south, with a force of 26,000 soldiers.

Salah ad-Din Yusuf
Al-Malik an-Nasir
Portrait of Saladin (before A.D. 1185; short).jpg

A possible portrait of Saladin, found in a work byIsmail al-Jazari, circa 1185
Sultan of Egypt and Syria
Reign 1174 – 4 March 1193
Coronation 1174, Cairo
Predecessor New office
Successor
Born 1137
Tikrit, Upper Mesopotamia,Abbasid Caliphate
Died 4 March 1193 (aged 55–56)
Damascus, Syria, Ayyubid Sultanate
Burial Umayyad Mosque, Damascus
Spouse Ismat ad-Din Khatun
Full name
An-Nasir Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
Dynasty Ayyubid
Father Najm ad-Dīn Ayyūb
Religion Sunni Islam (Shafi’i)

He had pinned the forces of Jerusalem’s King Baldwin IV, about 500 knights and their supporters, near the coast, at Ascalon. Eighty Templar knights and their own entourage attempted to reinforce. They met Saladin’s troops at Gaza, but were considered too small a force to be worth fighting, so Saladin turned his back on them and headed with his army towards Jerusalem.

Once Saladin and his army had moved on, the Templars were able to join King Baldwin’s forces, and together they proceeded north along the coast. Saladin had made a key mistake at that point – instead of keeping his forces together, he permitted his army to temporarily spread out and pillage various villages on their way to Jerusalem. The Templars took advantage of this low state of readiness to launch a surprise ambush directly against Saladin and his bodyguard, at Montgisard near Ramla. Saladin’s army was spread too thin to adequately defend themselves, and he and his forces were forced to fight a losing battle as they retreated back to the south, ending up with only a tenth of their original number. The battle was not the final one with Saladin, but it bought a year of peace for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the victory became a heroic legend.

Another key tactic of the Templars was that of the “squadron charge”. A small group of knights and their heavily armed warhorses would gather into a tight unit which would gallop full speed at the enemy lines, with a determination and force of will that made it clear that they would rather commit suicide than fall back. This terrifying onslaught would frequently have the desired result of breaking a hole in the enemy lines, thereby giving the other Crusader forces an advantage.

The Templars, though relatively small in number, routinely joined other armies in key battles. They would be the force that would ram through the enemy’s front lines at the beginning of a battle, or the fighters that would protect the army from the rear. They fought alongside King Louis VII of France, and King Richard I of England. In addition to battles in Palestine, members of the Order also fought in the Spanish and Portuguese Reconquista.

Bankers

Though initially an Order of poor monks, the official papal sanction made the Knights Templar a charity across Europe. Further resources came in when members joined the Order, as they had to take oaths of poverty, and therefore often donated large amounts of their original cash or property to the Order. Additional revenue came from business dealings. Since the monks themselves were sworn to poverty, but had the strength of a large and trusted international infrastructure behind them, nobles would occasionally use them as a kind of bank or power of attorney. If a noble wished to join the Crusades, this might entail an absence of years from their home. So some nobles would place all of their wealth and businesses under the control of Templars, to safeguard it for them until their return. The Order’s financial power became substantial, and the majority of the Order’s infrastructure was devoted not to combat, but to economic pursuits.

By 1150, the Order’s original mission of guarding pilgrims had changed into a mission of guarding their valuables through an innovative way of issuing letters of credit, an early precursor of modern banking. Pilgrims would visit a Templar house in their home country, depositing their deeds and valuables. The Templars would then give them a letter which would describe their holdings. Modern scholars have stated that the letters were encrypted with a cipher alphabet based on a Maltese Cross; however there is some disagreement on this, and it is possible that the code system was introduced later, and not something used by the medieval Templars themselves. While traveling, the pilgrims could present the letter to other Templars along the way, to “withdraw” funds from their accounts. This kept the pilgrims safe since they were not carrying valuables, and further increased the power of the Templars.

Knights Templar playing chess, 1283

The Knights’ involvement in banking grew over time into a new basis for money, as Templars became increasingly involved in banking activities. One indication of their powerful political connections is that the Templars’ involvement in usury did not lead to more controversy within the Order and the church at large. Officially the idea of lending money in return for interest was forbidden by the church, but the Order sidestepped this with clever loopholes, such as a stipulation that the Templars retained the rights to the production of mortgaged property. Or as one Templar researcher put it, “Since they weren’t allowed to charge interest, they charged rent instead.”

Their holdings were necessary to support their campaigns; in 1180, a Burgundian noble required 3 square kilometres of estate to support himself as a knight, and by 1260 this had risen to 15.6 km². The Order potentially supported up to 4,000 horses and pack animals at any given time, if provisions of the rule were followed; these horses had extremely high maintenance costs due to the heat in Outremer (Crusader states at the Eastern Mediterranean), and had high mortality rates due to both disease and the Turkish bowmen strategy of aiming at a knight’s horse rather than the knight himself. In addition, the high mortality rates of the knights in the East (regularly ninety percent in battle, not including wounded) resulted in extremely high campaign costs due to the need to recruit and train more knights. In 1244, at the battle of La Forbie, where only thirty-three of 300 knights survived, it is estimated the financial loss was equivalent to one-ninth of the entire Capetian yearly revenue.

The Templars’ political connections and awareness of the essentially urban and commercial nature of the Outremercommunities led the Order to a position of significant power, both in Europe and the Holy Land. They owned large tracts of land both in Europe and the Middle East, built churches and castles, bought farms and vineyards, were involved in manufacturing and import/export, had their own fleet of ships, and for a time even “owned” the entire island ofCyprus.

Decline

Their success attracted the concern of many other orders, with the two most powerful rivals being the Knights Hospitallerand the Teutonic Knights. Various nobles also had concerns about the Templars as well, both for financial reasons, and nervousness about an independent army that was able to move freely through all borders.

The Battle of Hattin

The long-famed military acumen of the Templars began to stumble in the 1180s. On July 4, 1187, came the disastrous Battle of the Horns of Hattin, a turning point in the Crusades. It again involved Saladin, who had been beaten back by the Templars in 1177 in the legendary Battle of Montgisard near Tiberias, but this time Saladin was better prepared. Further, the Grand Master of the Templars was involved in this battle, Gerard de Ridefort, who had just achieved that lifetime position a few years earlier. He was not known as a good military strategist, and made some deadly errors, such as venturing out with his force of 80 knights without adequate supplies or water, across the arid hill country of Galilee. The Templars were overcome by the heat within a day, and then surrounded and massacred by Saladin’s army. Within months Saladin captured Jerusalem.

But in the early 1190s, in a remarkably short and powerfully effective campaign, Richard the Lionheart, King of England and leader of the Third Crusade, together with his allies the Templars, delivered a series of powerful blows against Saladin and recovered much of Christian territory. In name and number the revived Crusader states were as before, but their outlines were diminished. There was the Kingdom of Jerusalem, though its capital was at Acre, which the Templars made their new headquarters. To the north was the County of Tripoli. But the Muslims retained control of the Syrian coast around Latakia for some time, and so the Principality of Antioch further to the north was now no longer contiguous to the other Crusader states. Nevertheless, the Third Crusade, in which Richard relied heavily on the Templars, had saved the Holy Land for the Christians and went a long way towards restoring Frankish fortunes. In this he was abetted by the military orders, whose great castles stood like islands of Frankish power amid the Muslim torrent. More than ever the Crusader states were relying on the military orders in their castles and on the field of battle, and the power of the orders grew. In fact at no point in their history would the Templars be more powerful than in the century to come.

But after the Siege of Acre in 1291, the Templars were forced to relocate their headquarters to the island of Cyprus.

Jacques de Molay
JacquesdeMolay.jpg
Grand Master of the Knights Templar
In office
1292–1314
Monarch King Philip IV
Preceded by Thibaud Gaudin
Succeeded by Order disbanded
Personal details
Born c. 1243[1]
Molay, Haute-Saône, France
Died March 18, 1314 (aged 70–71)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Military service
Allegiance Cross of the Knights Templar.svg Knights Templar
Years of service 1265–1314
Rank Grand Master (1292–1314)
Battles/wars Siege of Ruad

Jacques de Molay, who was to be the last of the Order’s Grand Masters, took office around 1292. One of his first tasks was to tour across Europe, to raise support for the Order and try to organize another Crusade. He met the newly invested Pope Boniface VIII, who agreed to grant the Templars the same privileges at Cyprus as they had held in the Holy Land. Charles II of Naples and Edward I also pledged varying types of support, either continuing to exempt the Templars from taxes, or pledging future support towards building a new army.

Pope
Boniface VIII
Bonifatius viii papst.jpg
Papacy began 24 December 1294
Papacy ended 11 October 1303
Predecessor Celestine V
Successor Benedict XI
Orders
Consecration 23 January 1295
Created Cardinal 12 April 1281
by Martin IV
Personal details
Birth name Benedetto Caetani
Born c. 1230
Anagni, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died 11 October 1303
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of arms Boniface VIII's coat of arms
Other popes named Boniface
Charles II
Charles 2 of Naples.jpg

King Charles II from the Bible of Naples
King of Naples
Count of Provence and Forcalquier
Reign 1285–1309
Coronation 29 May 1289
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Robert
Count of Anjou and Maine
Reign 1285–1290
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Charles III
Prince of Achaea
Reign 1285–1289
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Isabella and Florent
Born 1254
Died 5 May 1309
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Spouse Maria of Hungary
Issue
More
Charles Martel, Prince of Salerno
Louis, Bishop of Toulouse
Robert of Naples
Philip I of Taranto
John of Gravina
Margaret, Countess of Anjou
Blanche of Anjou
Eleanor of Anjou
Maria of Anjou
House Capetian House of Anjou
Father Charles I of Naples
Mother Beatrice of Provence

Final attempts to regain the Holy Land (1298–1300)

In 1298 or 1299, the military orders (the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller) and their leaders, including Jacques de Molay, Otton de Grandson and the Great Master of the Hospitallers, briefly campaigned in Armenia, in order to fight off an invasion by the Mamluks. They were not successful and soon the fortress of Roche-Guillaume in the Belen Pass, the last Templar stronghold in Antioch, was lost to the Muslims.

In 1300, the Templars, along with the Knights Hospitaller and forces from Cyprus attempted to retake the coastal city ofTortosa. They were able to take the island of Arwad, near Tortosa, but lost it soon after. With the loss of Arwad, the Crusaders had lost their last foothold in the Holy Land.

Though they still had a base of operations in Cyprus, and controlled considerable financial resources, the Order of the Templars became an Order without a clear purpose or support, but which still had enormous financial power. This unstable situation contributed to their downfall.

Fall

King Philip had other reasons to mistrust the Templars, as the organization had declared its desire to form its own state, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. The Templars’ preferred location for this was in the Languedoc of southeastern France, but they had also made a plan for the island of Cyprus. In 1306, the Templars had supported a coup on that island, which had forced King Henry II of Cyprus to abdicate his throne in favor of his brother, Amalric of Tyre. This probably made Philip particularly uneasy, since just a few years earlier he had inherited land in the region of Champagne, France, which was the Templars’ headquarters. The Templars were already a “state within a state”, were institutionally wealthy, paid no taxes, and had a large standing army which by papal decree could move freely through all European borders. However, this army no longer had a presence in the Holy Land, leaving it with no battlefield. These factors, plus the fact that Philip had inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father and was already deeply in debt to the Templars, were probably what led to his actions. However, recent studies emphasize the political and religious motivations of the French king. It seems that, with the “discovery” and repression of the “Templars’ heresy,” the Capetian monarchy claimed for itself the mystic foundations of the papal theocracy. The Temple case was the last step of a process of appropriating these foundations, which had begun with the Franco-papal rift at the time of Boniface VIII. Being the ultimate defender of the Catholic faith, the Capetian king was invested with a Christlike function that put him above the pope : what was at stake in the Templars’ trial, then, was the establishment of a “royal theocracy”.

At dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured in locations such as the tower at Chinon, into admitting heresy and other sacrilegious offenses in the Order. Then they were put to death. There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. On August 12, 1308, the charges would be increased and would become more outrageous, one specifically stated that the Templars worshipped idols, specifically made of a cat and a head, the latter having three faces. The lists of articles 86 to 127[3] would add many other charges. The majority of these charges were identical to the charges that had been earlier issued against the inconvenient Pope Boniface VIII: accusations of denying Christ, spitting and urinating on the cross, and devil worship. Of the 138 Templars (many of them old men) questioned in Paris over the next few years, 105 of them “confessed” to denying Christ during the secret Templar initiations. 103 confessed to an “obscene kiss” being part of the ceremonies, and 123 said they spat on the cross. Throughout the trial there was never any physical evidence of wrongdoing, and no independent witnesses; the only “proof” was obtained through confessions induced by torture. The Templars reached out to the Pope for assistance, and Pope Clement did write letters to King Philip questioning the arrests, but took no further action.

Despite the fact that the confessions had been produced under duress, they caused a scandal in Paris, with mobs calling for action against the blaspheming Order. In response to this public pressure, along with more bullying from King Philip, Pope Clement issued the bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Most monarchs simply didn’t believe the charges, though proceedings were started in England,Iberia, Germany, Italy, and Cyprus,with the likelihood of a confession being dependent on whether or not torture was used to extract it.

The dominant view is that Philip, who seized the treasury and broke up the monastic banking system, was jealous of the Templars’ wealth and power, and frustrated by his enormous debt to them, sought to seize their financial resources for himself by bringing blatantly false charges against them at the Tours assembly in 1308. It is almost impossible to believe, that, under the influence of his carefully chosen advisors (the same that had persecuted Boniface), he actually believed the charges to be true. It is widely accepted that Philip had clearly made up the accusations, some nearly identical to those made against Boniface, and did not believe any of the Templars to have been party to such activities. It is a fact that he had invited Jacques de Molay to be a pall-bearer at the funeral of the King’s sister on the very day before the arrests.

The arrests caused some shifts in the European economy, from a system of military fiat back to European money, removing this power from Church orders. Seeing the fate of the Templars, the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and of Rhodeswere also convinced to give up banking at this time.

Dismantling

Pope Clement V

In 1312, after the Council of Vienne, and under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. Many kings and nobles who had been supporting the Knights up until that time, finally acquiesced and dissolved the orders in their fiefs in accordance with the Papal command. Most were not so brutal as the French. InEngland, many Knights were arrested and tried, but not found guilty.

Much of the Templar property outside France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitaller, and many surviving Templars were also accepted into the Hospitallers. In theIberian Peninsula, where the king of Aragon was against giving the heritage of the Templars to the Hospitallers (as commanded by Clement V), the Order of Montesa took Templar assets.

The order continued to exist in Portugal, simply changing its name to the Order of Christ. This group was believed to have contributed to the first naval discoveries of the Portuguese. Prince Henry the Navigator led the Portuguese order for 20 years until the time of his death.

Prince Henry the Navigator
Duke of Viseu
Henry the Navigator1.jpg

Infante Henrique; St. Vincent Panels[a]
Born 4 March 1394
Porto, Portugal
Died 13 November 1460 (aged 66)
Sagres, Portugal
Burial Batalha Monastery
House Aviz
Father John I of Portugal
Mother Philippa of Lancaster
Religion Roman Catholicism

Even with the absorption of Templars into other Orders, there are still questions as to what became of all of the tens of thousands of Templars across Europe. There had been 15,000 “Templar Houses”, and an entire fleet of ships. Even in France where hundreds of Templars had been rounded up and arrested, this was only a small percentage of the estimated 3,000 Templars in the entire country. Also, the extensive archive of the Templars, with detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions, was never found. By papal bull it was to have been transferred to the Hospitallers.

A theory made popular with Holy Blood, Holy Grail has it that the Templars used a fleet of 18 ships at La Rochelle to escape arrest in France. The fleet allegedly left laden with knights and treasures just before the issue of the warrant for the arrest of the Order in October 1307. This, in turn, was based on a single item of testimony from serving brother Jean de Châlon, who says he had “heard people talking that [Gerard de Villiers had] put to sea with 18 galleys, and the brother Hugues de Chalon fled with the whole treasury of the brother Hugues de Pairaud.” However, aside from being the sole source for this statement, the transcript indicates that it is hearsay, and this serving brother seems to be prone to making some of the wildest and most damning of claims about the Order, which have led some to doubt his credibility.

In Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the knights that allegedly boarded these ships then escaped to Scotland, but in some versions the Templars are even claimed to have left for North America, burying a treasure in Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada (a story taken up in the 2004 movie National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage). However, many historians have questioned the plausibility of this scenario. For example, historian Helen Nicholson has argued that

The Templars did have ships to carry personnel, pilgrims and supplies across the Mediterranean between the West and East and back, but if the Hospital after 1312 is any guide they did not have more than four galleys (warships) and few other ships, and if they needed more they hired them. They certainly could not spare ships to indulge in world exploration … [T]he records of the port of La Rochelle show that the Templars were exporting wine by ship. This was not a fleet in any modern sense: again, those would have been transport vessels rather than warships, and the Templars probably hired them as they needed them, rather than buying their own. … The ships would have been very small by modern standards, too shallow in draught and sailing too low in the water to be able to withstand the heavy waves and winds of the open Atlantic, and suited for use only in the relatively shallow waters of the continental shelf. What was more, they could not carry enough water to be at sea for long periods.

Nicholson’s argument, however, is an assessment of the fleet in 1312 – according to the LaRochelle Theory, many ships would already have disappeared bound for many of the aforementioned destinations and stands to reason their fleet would seem depleted in the following years after the arrest of the Templars.

Heresy, blasphemy, and other charges

There were five initial charges lodged against the Templars. The first was the renouncement and spitting on the cross during initiation into the Order. The second was the stripping of the man to be initiated and the thrice kissing of that man by the preceptor on the navel, posteriors and the mouth. The third was telling the neophyte (novice) that unnatural lust was lawful and indulged in commonly. The fourth was that the cord worn by the neophyte day and night was consecrated by wrapping it around an idol in the form of a human head with a great beard, and that this idol was adored in all chapters. The fifth was that the priests of the order did not consecrate the host in celebrating Mass. Subsequently, the charges would be increased and would become, according to the procedures, lists of articles 86 to 127[3] in which will be added a few other charges, such as the prohibition to priests who do not belong to the order.

The incontrovertibility of the evidence that the Templar priests did not mutilate the words of consecration in the mass is furnished in the Cypriote proceedings by ecclesiastics who had long dwelt with them in the East.

The manuscript illustration (c. 1350) alludes to the accusation of “obscene kisses” at the base of the spine

Debate continues as to whether the accusation of religious heresy had merit by the standards of the time. Under torture, some Templars admitted to sodomy and to theworship of heads and an idol known as Baphomet. Their leaders later denied these admissions, and for that were executed. Some scholars, such as Malcolm Barber, Helen Nicholson and Peter Partner, discount these as forced admissions, typical during the Medieval Inquisition.

The majority of the charges were identical to other people being tortured by the Inquisitors, with one exception: head worship. The Templars were specifically charged with worshipping some type of severed head; a charge which was made only against Templars. The descriptions of the head allegedly venerated by the Templars were varied and contradictory in nature. Quoting Norman Cohn:

Some describe it as having three faces, others as having four feet, others as being simply a face with no feet. For some it was a human skull, embalmed and encrusted with jewels; for others it was carved out of wood. Some maintained that it came from the remains of a former grand master of the order, while others were equally convinced that it was Baphomet – which in turn was interpreted as ‘Mohammed’. Some saw it as having horns.

Barber has linked this charge to medieval folklore about magical heads, and the popular medieval belief that the Muslims worshipped idols. Some argue it referred to rituals involving the alleged relics of John the Baptist, Euphemia, one ofUrsula‘s eleven maidens, and/or Hugues de Payens rather than pagan idols.

The charges of heresy included spitting, trampling, or urinating on the cross; while naked, being kissed obscenely by the receptor on the lips, navel, and base of the spine; heresy and worship of idols; institutionalized sodomy; and also accusations of contempt of the Holy Mass and denial of the sacraments. Barbara Frale has suggested that these acts were intended to simulate the kind of humiliation and torture that a Crusader might be subjected to if captured by the Saracens. According to this line of reasoning, they were taught how to commit apostasy with the mind only and not with the heart.

The accusation of venerating Baphomet is more problematic. Karen Ralls has noted, “There is no mention of Baphomet either in the Templar Rule or in other medieval period Templar documents”. The late scholar Hugh J. Schonfieldspeculated that the chaplains of the Knights Templar created the term Baphomet through the Atbash cipher to encrypt theGnostic term Sophia (Greek for “wisdom“) due to the influence of hypothetical Qumran Essene scrolls, which they may have found during archaeological digs in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Roman Catholic Church’s position

The papal process started by Pope Clement V, to investigate both the Order as a whole and its members individually found virtually no knights guilty of heresy outside France. Fifty-four knights were executed in France by French authorities asrelapsed heretics after denying their original testimonies before the papal commission; these executions were motivated by Philip’s desire to prevent Templars from mounting an effective defence of the Order. It failed miserably, as many members testified against the charges of heresy in the ensuing papal investigation.

Jacques de Molay, nineteenth-century color lithograph by Chevauchet

Despite the poor defense of the Order, when the papal commission ended its proceedings on June 5, 1311, it found no evidence that the Order itself held heretical doctrines, or used a “secret rule” apart from the Latin and French rules. On October 16, 1311, at the General Council of Vienne held in Dauphiné, the council voted for the maintenance of the Order.

But on March 22, 1312, Clement V promulgated the bull Vox in excelsis in which he stated that although there was not sufficient reason to condemn the Order, for the common good, the hatred of the Order by Philip IV, the scandal brought about by their trial, and the likely dilapidation of the Order that would result from the trial, the Order was to be suppressed by the pope’s authority over it. But the order explicitly stated that dissolution was enacted, “with a sad heart, not by definitive sentence, but by apostolic provision.

This was followed by the papal bull Ad Providum on May 2, 1312, which granted all of the Order’s lands and wealth to the Hospitallers so that its original purpose could be met, despite Philip’s wishes that the lands in France pass to him. Philip held onto some lands until 1318, and in England the crown and nobility held a great deal until 1338; in many areas of Europe the land was never given over to the Hospitaller Order, instead taken over by nobility and monarchs in an attempt to lessen the influence of the Church and its Orders. Of the knights who had not admitted to the charges, against those whom nothing had been found, or those who had admitted but been reconciled to the Church, some joined the Hospitallers (even staying in the same Templar houses); others joined Augustinian or Cistercian houses; and still others returned to secular life with pension. In Portugal and Aragon, the Holy See granted the properties to two new Orders, the Order of Christ and the Order of Montesa respectively, made up largely of Templars in those kingdoms. In the same bull, he urged those who had pleaded guilty be treated “according to the rigours of justice.”[citation needed]

Two Templars burned at the stake, including Jacques de Molay, from a French 15th-century manuscript

In the end, the only three accused of heresy directly by the papal commission wereJacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and his two immediate subordinates; they were to renounce their heresy publicly, when de Molay regained his courage and proclaimed the order’s and his innocence along with Geoffrey de Charney. The two were arrested by French authorities as relapsed heretics andburned at the stake in 1314. Their ashes were then ground up and dumped into theSeine, so as to leave no relics behind.

In England the Crown was also deeply in debt to the Templars, and probably on that basis, the Templars were also persecuted in England, their lands forfeited and taken by others, (the last private owner being the favorite of Edward II, Hugh le Despenser). Many of Templars in England were killed; some fled to Scotland and other places. In France, Philip IV, who was also coincidentally in terrible financial debt to the Templars was perhaps the more aggressive persecutor. So widely was the injustice of Philip’s rage against the Templars perceived that the “Curse of the Templars” became legend: Reputedly uttered by the Grand Master Jacques de Molay upon the stake whence he burned, he adjured: “Within one year, God will summon both Clement and Philip to His Judgment for these actions.” The fact that both rulers died within a year, as predicted, only heightened the scandal surrounding the suppression of the Order. The source of this legend does not date from the time of the execution of Jacques de Molay.

Chinon and Absolution

In September 2001, Barbara Frale discovered a copy of the Chinon Parchment dated 17–20 August 1308 in the Vatican Secret Archives, a document that indicated that Pope Clement V absolved the leaders of the Order in 1308. Frale published her findings in the Journal of Medieval History in 2004[37] In 2007, The Vatican published the Chinon Parchment as part of a limited edition of 799 copies of Processus Contra Templarios. Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, well known to historians, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”.

Advertisements

Pioneers of the American West: The Harvey Girls (Photos)


Post 8647

Pioneers of the American West: The Harvey Girls (Photos)

Moving across the land

Credit: Library of Congress

Serving the troops

Credit: Library of Congress

The Weird Tale of a Larger-Than-Life Wolf That Outran the Law, Almost


Post 8646

The Weird Tale of a Larger-Than-Life Wolf That Outran the Law, Almost

Partner Series
The Weird Tale of a Larger-Than-Life Wolf That Outran the Law, Almost

A North American gray wolf (Canis lupus) strikes a pose in the snow, recalling the storied figure of the Custer Wolf, the so-called “gray devil of the desert” that haunted South Dakota during the early 20th century.

Credit: Shutterstock

For nearly a decade during the dawn of the 20th century, a lone — and furry — figure cut a criminal swath across South Dakota’s badlands, evading government officials as well as seasoned trackers and bounty hunters.

At the peak of his infamy, the price on his head totaled $500 — the equivalent of about $6,000 today. He was the Custer Wolf, a North American gray wolf (Canis lupus) so-named for the nearby town of Custer, South Dakota. The four-legged outlaw that preyed on livestock was widely reviled as a scourge of farmers and ranchers, but was also a source of fearful speculation, rumored to be an enormous monster possessing supernatural powers that prevented its capture.

On this day (Jan. 17) in 1921, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) distributed a statement announcing the death of the elusive Custer Wolf at the hands of a federally contracted hunter, naming the wolf “the master criminal of the animal world” and describing it as “the cruelest, the most sagacious, the most successful animal outlaw that the range country had ever known.” [Photos: Brand-New Baby Wolves]

The language in the statement — written by USDA press officer Dixon Lanier Merritt, also a poet and humorist — seems a little over-the-top, but so was the Custer Wolf’s story.

For nine years, the beast hunted and fed on horses and cattle across a range spanning about 300 square miles (780 square kilometers) in South Dakota, costing their owners an estimated $25,000 — an amount equal to about $311,000 in 2017.

But the wolf was also said to mutilate its kills “in atrocious ways for the mere sake of killing,” according to the statement. Over the years, attempts to catch the wolf with traps, guns, dogs and poison were unsuccessful. Fearful rumors circulated that he was no “mere wolf,” but a hybrid of wolf and mountain lion, “possessing the craftiness of both and the cruelty of hell,” and that he was accompanied by two coyotes that served as “bodyguards,” the USDA reported.

Historically, wolves in the Dakotas typically preyed on large ungulates such as bison, moose and elk. But as Europeans settled in the West, they killed off the wolves’ prey. And so the wolves, their ranges now greatly reduced by agriculture and ranching, began hunting livestock in order to survive.

This marked the beginning of federal bounty programs to exterminate wolves. These programs were so effective that North American gray wolves were largely eradicated in most of the lower 48 states before they were offered protection by the Endangered Species Act in 1978, with only a few hundred animals remaining in Minnesota, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reported.

In the end, the Custer Wolf couldn’t outrun the law. The USDA sent one of its own hunters, H.P. Williams, on the trail of the renegade wolf in March 1920, with instructions to catch the animal “no matter how much time was required,” Dixon wrote in the statement.

Federal hunter H.P. Williams (left) and a local rancher stand over the slain Custer Wolf on Oct. 11, 1920.

Federal hunter H.P. Williams (left) and a local rancher stand over the slain Custer Wolf on Oct. 11, 1920.

Credit: Paul Fearn/Alamy

 

Williams trailed the wolf for months, first shooting the alleged coyote“bodyguards” and then laying a series of traps that the wolf managed to avoid or spring without getting caught. But the wolf’s storied luck ran out on Oct. 11, when he stepped into one of Williams’ steel traps, the hunter reported to the USDA.

Even then, the wolf managed to break the trap and run for 3 miles (4.8 km), with the trap’s teeth still gripping his front leg, before Williams ended his life with a bullet.

In death, the wolf was found to be no oversize monster. In fact, he was “an old wolf” with nearly white fur, and he was smaller than average, measuring about 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length and weighing 98 pounds (44 kilograms), Williams recounted.

Despite Merritt’s harsh words in the USDA statement about the Custer Wolf’s lengthy “reign of dread,” the writer clearly held some admiration for the animal that evaded human retribution for so long, and grew into a larger-than-life, four-legged legend of the Wild West.

“He loped through every kind of danger and spurned them all,” Merritt wrote.

Currently, there are no known populations of gray wolves in South Dakota, according to the FWS.

Original article on Live Science.

The History of Russia’s ‘Plague Fort,’ Where Scientists Battled Death (and Lost)


Post 8645

The History of Russia’s ‘Plague Fort,’ Where Scientists Battled Death (and Lost)

 The History of Russia's 'Plague Fort,' Where Scientists Battled Death (and Lost)
The abandoned Fort Alexander, also called the Plague Fort, sits on an artificial island near St. Petersburg, Russia.

Credit: Shutterstock

With water lapping at its curved, worn stone walls and vegetation spreading on its roof, Fort Alexander looks like the kind of place with an eerie history.

And it is.

This water-bound, bean-shaped fort, built on an artificial island near St. Petersburg, Russia, was once the site of a research laboratory focused on the study of the plague. Two staff members were accidentally infected with the plague and died. The place is now often called “the Plague Fort” in dubious honor of this history.

The fort is now empty, but it occasionally makes forays into the public eye. It was most recently the subject of a Reddit thread in a forum dedicated to photographs of abandoned buildings. In 2016, drone footage of the fortshot around the internet.

The fort was constructed over a period of seven years, built on a platform of sand, concrete and granite that sat on the floor of the Gulf of Finland,according to Atlas Obscura. It was built to protect the strategically important gulf, though it never saw actual battle.

The real fight inside the walls of Fort Alexander was against the plague.Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes the plague, was discovered in 1894. Within a few years, Russia set up a plague lab at Fort Alexander to study the Black Death-causing pathogen and develop a vaccine.

An essay written in 1907 describes the lab animals inoculated with the plague in order to extract their blood serum to develop plague treatment and preventatives: rabbits, guinea pigs, monkeys, even horses. In 1904, the head doctor, VI Turchinovich-Vyzhnyevich, contracted the plague and died, according to the essay. In 1907, another doctor, Emanuel F. Schreiber, fell ill. He was sick for three days, diagnosing himself with the pneumatic, or respiratory, form of the plague. (According to the World Health Organization, the pneumatic plague is almost always fatal unless treated with modern medicine within 24 hours of symptoms appearing.) Schreiber was cremated on-site so that his remains wouldn’t spread the deadly bacteria.

As recounted in the 1907 essay, another doctor, Lev Vladimirovich Podlevsky, came down with the plague within days of Schreiber’s death. But Podlevsky was lucky (relatively). He contracted the bubonic form of the plague, so named because of the distinctive lumps, or buboes, that appear on lymph nodes during an infection. Today, bubonic plague kills between 30 and 60 percent of its victims when untreated, according to the World Health Organization.

Podlevsky was treated with an experimental plague serum developed by the lab. He eventually recovered.

The isolated lab was later used to study other infectious diseases, including cholera and tetanus, according to Atlas Obscura. The lab shut down in 1917, and the Russian navy used the fort as a storage facility until it was abandoned in the 1980s. According to Atlas Obscura, it then became a popular place for illegal, unpermitted raves.

The curious traveler no longer has to trespass to reach this abandoned outpost, though. Today, boat tours are available to take sightseers to the fort.

Original article on Live Science.

Medieval Text Resolves Mystery of Viking-Irish Battle


Post 8643

Medieval Text Resolves Mystery of Viking-Irish Battle

Partner Series
Medieval Text Resolves Mystery of Viking-Irish Battle

The “Battle of Clontarf,” an 1825 oil-on-canvass painting, depicts the momentus battle fought in 1014.

Credit: Hugh Frazer

The famous Irish king, Brian Boru, is widely credited with defeating the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf more than 1,000 years ago. But not everyone heaps praise on the king. For the past 300 years, historians have cast doubt on whether Boru’s main enemies were the Vikings, or his own countrymen.

Perhaps, say these so-called revisionists, the Battle of Clontarf was actually a domestic feud — that is, a civil war — between different parts of Ireland.

To settle the matter, researchers analyzed a medieval text used by both traditionalists and revisionists to bolster their arguments. The results are a boon for Boru: The hostilities revealed in the text largely indicate that the Irish fought in an international war against the Vikings, although Irish-on-Irish conflict is also described in the manuscripts, according to the new study, published online today (Jan. 24) in the journal Royal Society Open Science. [Fierce Fighters: 7 Secrets of Viking Culture]

The medieval Irish text, known as Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh (“The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill”), describes how an army led by Boru challenged the Viking invaders, culminating in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The Vikings weren’t new to Ireland. Viking raids against the Emerald Isle began in A.D. 795. In the decades that followed, the Vikings took over Dublin and built camps that evolved into the settlements of Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford, said study lead author Ralph Kenna, a professor of theoretical physics at Coventry University, in the United Kingdom.

But Boru wanted a unified Ireland, and the Vikings and various regional kingdoms stood in his way. Boru achieved his goal of unification in 1011, but merely a year later, the province of Leinster and Viking-controlled Dublin rose against him, leading to the Battle of Clontarf. (Boru’s army defeated Leinster and the Vikings, but victory came at price for Boru, as he was killed at Clontarf.)

An image (A) of a 19th-century facsimile of the first page of the Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh and the main kingdoms (B) of Ireland around A.D. 900 with large Viking towns.

An image (A) of a 19th-century facsimile of the first page of the Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh and the main kingdoms (B) of Ireland around A.D. 900 with large Viking towns.

Credit: Yose, J. et al./Royal Society Open Science

Leinster’s role in the battle led revisionists to describe the conflict as a civil war, Kenna said. The 18th-century revisionist Charles O’Connor wrote that “in the series of events that led to Clontarf, it was not … the Norse [the Vikings] but the Leinstermen, who played the predominant part,” Kenna told Live Science, adding that the historian “put forward the view that the conflict is not a ‘clear-cut’ one between Irish and Viking.”

“In recent years, this revisionist view has gained a lot of traction and a ‘new orthodoxy’ is being constructed,” Kenna said. “For example, in 2014, which was the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, an Irish TV station ran a documentary about the conflict with footage of a rugby match,” Kenna said, referring to the use of rugby footage to dramatize the conflict. “The rugby match was between the Irish provinces of Munster and Leinster. This was as if to suggest that the battle was mainly betweentwo provinces in Ireland — not Irish versus Vikings.”

To investigate, the researchers dove into a 217-page, 1867 translation of Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh by James Henthorn Todd.

The research team used social network theory, which measured to what extent the Irish and Viking characters in the text were linked to each other. [Emerald Isle: A Photo Tour of Ireland]

The network of the Cogadh's 315 characters and their 1,190 interactions with one another. Green points represent Irish characters and blue points represent Vikings. Other characters are shown in gray. If an Irish character interacts with another Irish one, the link between them is colored green. If a Viking interacts with another Viking, the link between them is blue. Brown links represent interactions between Irish and Vikings.

The network of the Cogadh’s 315 characters and their 1,190 interactions with one another. Green points represent Irish characters and blue points represent Vikings. Other characters are shown in gray. If an Irish character interacts with another Irish one, the link between them is colored green. If a Viking interacts with another Viking, the link between them is blue. Brown links represent interactions between Irish and Vikings.

Credit: Joseph Yose

“The analysis had to determine whether hostility between characters was mostly Irish versus Viking, or Irish versus Irish (or, indeed, Viking versus Viking),” Kenna said. “A simple tally of hostile interactions between characters will not do, as this would not account for different numbers of Irish and Vikings.”

They found that the text doesn’t indicate a “clear-cut” Irish-versus-Viking conflict, Kenna said. The hostilities in the medieval text are mostly between the Irish and the Vikings, but Irish-versus-Irish conflicts were also present in the document, the researchers wrote.

“Because [the finding] is moderate in magnitude, it indicates that there was a lot of Irish-versus-Irish conflict, too,” Kenna said.

Original article on Live Science.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The First Christmas


Post 8631

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The First Christmas

EDWARD WRIGHT

http://listverse.com/2016/12/25/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-first-christmas/

‘Tis the season that carolers sing, decorations are hung, Nativity scenes are set up, and Christmas cards begin flooding our mailboxes, each with a different scene from “The First Noel.” You might be shocked, however, to discover that many of the details you’ve come to believe about history’s first Christmas are completely inaccurate. The Christmas carols and card companies have it all wrong. To put you in a festive mood (as well as to correct a few historical misunderstandings) here are ten things you probably didn’t know about the first Christmas.

10It Didn’t Happen In December

Israeli Sheep
Jesus probably wasn’t born on December 25. In fact, He probably wasn’t born in December at all. The Bible mentions shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in the fields. December in Israel would have been cold; the fields would have been unproductive, and the sheep were probably corralled. Shepherds usually kept their flocks in the fields during the spring lambing season.

So how did Christmas come to be associated with December 25? The earliest recorded estimates dating the birth of Christ come from Clement of Alexandria (circa AD 200). He mentioned different groups who identified the date of Jesus’s birth as March 21, April 15, April 21, or May 20. The first mention of December 25 as Jesus’s birthday wasn’t until the mid–fourth century, when a Roman almanac listed December 25 as natus Christus in Betleem Judeae, or, “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”

A popular theory about the origin of Christmas is that early Christians stole the date from a Roman Sun festival, which was held in late December. It’s suggested that this was a deliberate attempt to spread Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. This theory has numerous problems, though, as early Christian writers such as Irenaeus and Tertullian make no mention of this, and Origen of Alexandria openly mocks Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries. It has been proposed that December 25, a time of pagan feasts, wasn’t deliberately chosen until the 12th century. While this theory popular on social media, scholars today recognize serious problems with it.

The question remains: Why December 25? Tertullian recorded a calculation that date of Jesus’s birth was March 25. This was later celebrated as a feast commemorating Jesus’s conception, as opposed to His birth. Further, it was suggested that Jesus died on March 25, which led to the belief that He was conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. December 25 is obviously nine months after March 25, so it was taken as Jesus’s birthday.

The truth is that December 25 came from celebrations in the early Church, not from pagan celebrations. Many scholars today believe that Jesus wasn’t even born in December.

9There Wasn’t An Inn

Old Israeli Building
We’ve all heard the story about there being “no room at the inn.” Indeed, this is what our English Bibles say. But in the original Greek (the language in which the New Testament was written), the word kataluma, translated as “inn,” doesn’t necessarily mean a motel. It’s only used a few times in the Bible, and elsewhere, it means “upper room” or “guest room.” The famous Last Supper took place in a kataluma. In fact, there’s a different Greek word for “inn” that does mean a motel or paid lodging, but it isn’t used, though the same gospel writer uses it in the story of the Good Samaritan a few chapters later.

First-century homes often had a main room on the ground floor, where the family lived, and an “upper room” or “guest room,” where people who needed lodging could stay. It was a great shame in the Middle East to refuse hospitality to someone in need. There is a good chance that if there was no room in the “guest room,” it’s because it was already occupied.

This changes the whole story we’ve come to celebrate. Rather than arriving in Bethlehem only to find the local motel with no vacancy, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and sought lodging at a family member’s house. This would be a natural thing to do in Middle Eastern culture. Because people were returning to their ancestral homes for the census, other family members had already arrived and were occupying the guest room.

So where did Mary and Joseph stay?

8There Wasn’t A Stable


There’s no mention of a stable in the Bible’s stories of the first Christmas. A stable is assumed because we’re told that they “laid him in a manger.” (A manger is an animal’s feeding trough.) If there was a manger, it must have been in a stable (or perhaps a cave) where the animals stayed, right? Probably not.

As previously mentioned, there’s a good chance that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown, and sought lodging at a family member’s house. The guest room was full, but it would have been a great shame to turn away someone in need, especially a relative with a pregnant wife. Many families had mangers inside their homes, where young animals would be safe and warm. Some of them were built into the floor of the of peasant homes or occupied a small room on the main floor.

Since the guest room was full, Mary and Joseph were likely offered the manger, and it was there that the mother of Jesus gave birth. Rather than being turned away by a crusty old innkeeper and given lodging in a dirty barn, Mary and Joseph were probably in a relative’s home, surrounded by loved ones, when Jesus was born and laid in a manger.

7Mary Didn’t Give Birth The Night She Arrived

Mary
In our Western reading of the Christmas story, we get the impression that Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem just in a nick of time and that Mary gave birth that very night. The truth is probably far less dramatic.

The actual account of the first Christmas reads, “And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son.” The phrase “that her days were accomplished” is linked to “when they were there.” This implies that they had been there for a period of time before she gave birth.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, a Roman census wasn’t completed in a day. There would have had to have been time for all members of a family to travel the distance required for them to return to their ancestral homes to be counted. There would have been lines and waiting, not unlike our present-day elections. The reality is that Mary and Joseph were likely in Bethlehem for an extended period of time, both before and after she gave birth.

6The Wise Men Didn’t Arrive The Night Jesus Was Born


The three wise men are a staple in almost every Nativity scene, each carrying a gift for the newborn king. Standing beside the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, they complete the story of the first Christmas. Or do they?

The Biblical account says, “And entering into the house, they found the childwith Mary his mother.” Notice two things about this statement: First, the wise men found the family in a house, not a stable. Quite possibly, they were still living with their family in Bethlehem at the time or in a house that they had since rented. Second, they found a “child.” The Greek word used ispaidion, which means “toddler,” not brephos, or “baby,” as in Luke 2:16.

It’s also worth noting that after the wise men deceived King Herod by returning a different way, he had all of the children in the vicinity who were two years old and younger slaughtered. These facts point to Jesus being a toddler and the wise men having visited him one or two years after his birth.

5The Shepherds Didn’t Follow The Star


Many think of the shepherds as old men cradling lambs and standing in a stable with the star shining above, having just heard the angels sing. Many believe that the shepherds followed the star to find the baby in a manger. This is but another traditional myth that has come to be associated with the first Christmas.

The misconception developed by the blending of two separate stories (the shepherds and the wise men) which occurred at different times. There probably wasn’t a star hanging over Bethlehem the night Jesus was born, as it didn’t lead the wise men there for two years. The shepherds were said to have been directed by the angel to find the child by following two signs: “You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.” Using these two clues, the shepherds went in search of the newborn king.

How would the shepherds found a newborn baby in a town the size of Bethlehem? The answer is surprisingly simple. Much like today, births in the first century were a big deal. If Mary gave birth in the home of one of Joseph’s relatives, surrounded by family, the house would have been filled with much rejoicing. The shepherds were no doubt guided by the infant’s cries and happy sounds of celebration.

4There Weren’t Three Wise Men

More Than Three Wise Men
We’ve come to know them as Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the three wise men from the East who supposedly traveled by camel following the star. But were there really only three of them? In truth, these three names weren’t added to the story until the seventh century in the earliest Latin records.

Three gifts are mentioned in the Christmas story: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Nowhere is the number of wise men recorded. It’s assumed that each wise man brought a gift, and thus, there must have been three wise men. In reality, there may have been more who came to worship the baby.

Early Christian art is inconsistent as to the number of wise men. A painting in the cemetery of Saints Peter and Marcellinus displays two wise men, while one in the cemetery of Domitilla shows four. A vase in the Kircher Museum has eight wise men, and Asian tradition says there were twelve. The truth is that the number of wise men who visited the infant king simply isn’t known, and there is no compelling reason, aside from the number of gifts, to believe that there were three.

3The Wise Men Weren’t Kings

Educated Biblical Man
“We three kings of orient” is sung each Christmas to celebrate the journey of the wise men. Were they really kings?

The Greek word used in Matthew 2:1 is magos. The word is primarily used to denote a member of a group of priests or wise men among the Medes, Persians, and Babylonians. They were educated men, whose study included astronomy, astrology, and enchantment. It is sometimes translated as “wise man,” sometimes as “magician.” The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the same word in the book of Daniel, where it describes that Daniel was made the “chief of the magicians.”

This fits well with the Christmas story, where we’re told that the wise men “saw his star in the east” and came to worship the baby. Magoi studied the stars and saw meaning in the celestial object that dominated the night sky at that time. Rather than being kings, it seems more likely that the wise men were educated astronomers from the East.

2Mary And Joseph Were Married When Jesus Was Born

Mary and Joseph
Part of the scandal surrounding the birth of Jesus was undoubtedly the claim of Mary’s immaculate conception. It was this that even led Joseph to initially decide to quietly divorce her, rather than have her stoned to death for adultery as the law said. Here was an unwed mother, pregnant in a first-century religious community.

However, it’s not quite as cut and dry as that. Joseph and Mary were “betrothed,” or engaged, when they find out that Mary was pregnant. It’s likely that they had signed a Jewish engagement contract called a ketubbah. This was much more legally binding than our modern engagements and could only be broken by a divorce.

Furthermore, after seeing a vision of an angel in a dream, Joseph got up “and took unto him his wife.” So, in view of the average Jewish person in the first century, they were technically married, although they hadn’t consummated their marriage.

1The Christmas Star May Have Been A Planetary Conjunction

Bright Planet
There are a number of fascinating features about the star that guided the wise men. It is said to have risen “in the east,” to have “appeared” at a specific time, to have gone “before them,” and to have “stopped” over Bethlehem.

Taken together, these characteristics cannot possibly describe a star, but they do describe planets, known as “wandering stars” to the ancients. They rise in the eastern sky, travel through the fixed field of stars, and are governed by the planetary laws of motion, which make them appear at certain times and not others. Moreover, they can even appear to stop when they enter their retrograde motion phase.

There is evidence that Herod the Great died in 1 BC, not 4 BC as previously thought. During the fall of 2 BC, an amazing planetary conjunction between Jupiter and the star Regulus would have resulted in one of the brightest objects that people at that time had ever seen. It’s interesting to note that Jupiter is named after the greatest god of Roman mythology, and Regulus means “regal” or “kingly.” This symbolism would not have been lost on the magi (aka astronomers) who decided to follow it.

By running computer simulations, we can discover the exact day that Jupiter went into its retrograde motion and appeared to stop. That day wasDecember 25, 2 BC. To the wise men gazing at Jupiter from Jerusalem, it would have appeared to be over the little town of Bethlehem. So, December 25 may not have been the day Jesus was born, but rather the day that the wise men came to give him gifts.

10 Strange And Mysterious Islands


Post 8590

10 Strange And Mysterious Islands

GARY PULLMAN

http://listverse.com/2017/11/01/10-strange-and-mysterious-islands/

Most of the world’s islands are well-explored, their secrets learned long ago, but a few remain mysterious. Islands shown on maps for centuries suddenly appear to vanish. Dangerous, top secret facilities on remote islands are abandoned or destroyed. Sometimes, islands behave in ways seemingly inexplicable to those who discover or study them. An island seems to appear as if by magic, leaving experts to wonder what created it and how.

Islands all but completely cut off from the rest of the world produce flora that are not only unique but also look as though they could grow only on an alien world. Other islands are mysterious because of their inhabitants’ origin or fate. All of these ten strange and mysterious islands are truly amazing for these reasons and more.

10Isla Bermeja, The Lost Island

Photo credit: Henry S. Tanner

On maps dating as far back as the 1700s, Isla Bermeja was shown off the Yucatan Peninsula’s coast, at a greater distance than any other island claimed by Mexico. The island was just what the country needed to extend its claim on offshore oil and stop the United States’ encroachment on Mexico’s interests in that department. There was just one problem: A 2009 National Autonomous University of Mexico study concluded the island doesn’t exist—at least not where it’s supposed to be. The search team, using underwater sensing devices and aerial reconnaissance assets, couldn’t find the island anywhere in the area in which maps indicated it should be.

The island is supposed to lie 55 nautical miles farther than Mexico’s 200-nautical-mile territorial limit. By claiming it, Mexico would extend its oil claims into the middle of the Gulf. Although the lost island wasn’t found, Elias Cardenas, the head of Mexico’s congressional Maritime Committee, planned to continue his country’s search for it, hoping it might turn up elsewhere. Perhaps the island had sunk or submerged, he said.

Mexican conspiracy theorists had their own ideas about what happened to Isla Bermeja. Maybe the US bombed it, or it could have been a victim of global warming or an earthquake. Cardenas is certain that bombing didn’t account for the mysterious island’s disappearance. “That would have been [ . . . ] very noticeable,” he said.

The elusive island was first reported missing in 1997, when a Navy fishing expedition was unable to find it. Until it disappeared, Isla Bermeja, which supposedly measured 80 square kilometers (31 mi2), had been the point from which Mexico’s 200 nautical-mile limit started. Currently, the Alacranes islands have determined the end of the country’s territorial limits. As a result, Mexico’s “economic zone” has been “sharply reduced.

9Vozrozhdeniya Island

Photo credit: Amusing Planet

During the 1920s, Soviet Union officials were seeking a location with specific attributes. It had to be isolated, it had to be surrounded by desert, and it had to be within the borders of the Soviet empire. Two islands fit the bill. The Soviets chose Vozrozhdeniya, situated in the Aral Sea. There, a top secret biological weapons laboratory was constructed, where the plague, anthrax, smallpox, brucellosis, tularemia, botulinum, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis pathogens were genetically modified to resist medical treatment.

Gennadi Lepyoshkin, physician, microbiologist, and Soviet Army colonel, spent 18 years of his career on the island, where, in a year’s time, he said as many as 300 monkeys would be caged on a range, next to instruments that measured the concentrations of pathogens in the air. Following the monkeys’ exposure to the germs, they’d be taken to labs, where their bloodwas tested, and the progression of the diseases in their bodies would be monitored. “They would die within weeks, and we would perform autopsies,” Lepyoshkin said. The 1,500 people involved in the project not only worked on the island but lived there as well in the only town, Kantubek, which provided “a social club, a stadium, a couple of schools and shops,” Lepyoshkin said. It was a “beautiful” place, where workers could swim in the Aral Sea or sunbathe on its shore.

As the Aral Sea dried up, the island simply became part of the surrounding desert, and today, Kantubek lies in ruins, having been looted after it was abandoned by the Soviet Union. Scientists don’t believe the biological weapons laboratory poses much of a threat anymore. All the pathogens except anthrax, which can survive for centuries, have been destroyed by the area’s high temperatures and harsh conditions.

When they left, the Soviets buried the laboratory’s anthrax spores to conceal the project’s violation of the 1972 treaty banning biological weapons. In the 21st century, US and Uzbek officials visited the site, burning warehouses that contained “remains of the previous experiments.” US Defense Department officials believe the anthrax spores have been destroyed, although no one can know for certain that such is the case.

8Bannerman Island

Photo credit: Antony-22

Bannerman Island, in the Hudson River, is a half-hour boat ride from New York City. There’s no other way to get there. Visitors to the mysterious island are likely to wonder why there’s a castle on it. The edifice was built by Frank Bannerman VI, who made a fortune by reselling surplus military equipment he bought at government auctions at the end of the US Civil War.

He was in need of a place to store the huge quantities of black powder he’d purchased, along with other surplus items, when his son, David, mentioned Pollopel Island. Bannerman bought it in 1900, built a large arsenal there the next spring, and constructed a small castle atop the island, next to the arsenal, as his home, renaming the island after himself.

When Bannerman died in 1918, construction ceased. The ferryboat was destroyed in a storm in 1950, and the island was abandoned. On August 8, 1969, a fire gutted the arsenal, and New York state, which had bought Bannerman Island and its buildings in 1967, declared the island off-limits. It reopened in 2017, and tour guides now recount the island’s mysterious history to curious visitors.

7Earthquake Island

Photo credit: NASA

The powerful earthquake that killed 39 people and toppled homes in Pakistan in September 2013 also created an island. According to Pakistan’s chief meteorologist, Mohammed Riaz, it was magnitude 7.7, while the US Geological Survey in Colorado claimed it was magnitude 7.8.

The island didn’t exist before the earthquake, but after the event, the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s director general, Arif Mahmood, said locals reported witnessing the creation of the tiny island, measuring 100 meters (330 ft) in length and 9 meters (30 ft) high, near the port of Gwadar. Pakistani officials said it was possible that the earthquake buckled land under the sea, creating the island, but further investigation would be conducted to determine the cause.

6Magic Island

Astronomers spied a mysterious anomaly while analyzing data from NASA’sCassini probe photographing Saturn and its moons. Comparing older photos to the most current ones to see whether there were any changes, Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientist at Cornell University, and his colleagues spotted what they dubbed a “magic island,” in one of Titan’s seas. The island was approximately 20 kilometers (12 mi) by 10 kilometers (6 mi).

While it’s possible that the “island” is nothing more than waves caused by winds that have strengthened enough to produce such effects or bubbles from gases rising from the seafloor, it’s also possible that the apparent mass actually is an island of sorts: It could be “solids becoming buoyant with the onset of warmer temperatures and floating on the surface, or solids that are neither sunken nor floating, but rather suspended in the sea like silt in a delta on Earth,” according to Hofgartner. To determine for sure what’s going on, NASA plans to “put a boat or raft on Titan’s seas” to better study the moon and its seas.

5Floating Eye Island

Photo credit: Elojo Project

Located in the Parana Delta, between the cities of Campana and Zarate in Buenos Aires Province in Argentina, is an island shaped like a nearly perfect circle with a diameter of 120 meters (390 ft). It is surrounded by a channel that also forms a nearly perfect circle. Thanks to the presence of the round land mass inside it, the channel looks much like a crescent moon. Together, the island and channel resemble an eye, an appearance that suggested the island’s nickname. “The Eye” floats; it also rotates on its own axis, film director director Sergio Neuspiller said. The filmmaker discovered the Eye in 2016, while he was scouting locations for a science fiction movie.

Having made the astonishing discovery of the mysterious island, Neuspiller and his crew, including Richard Petroni, a hydraulic and civil engineer from New York who’s become involved in the project, decided to make a crowd-funded documentary about the Eye, instead of filming the science fiction movie Neuspiller had originally intended to make.

4Socotra Island

Photo credit: Reuters/Alistair Lyon

Socotra Island, off the coast of Yemen, looks for all the world like an alien planet. Its endangered flora is unique due to the remote location’s isolation, temperature extremes, and arid conditions. A third of its plant life can be found nowhere else on Earth. Fortunately, 70 percent of the island has been set aside as a national park.

Some of the plants look like turnips planted upside down. The branches of another, the crimson sap of which has earned it the name Dragon’s Blood Tree, are devoid of leaves, except at their tips, which makes it look as though the branches are the tree’s roots and the tree is growing upside down. Thestrange tree is used for its supposed medicinal value, to produce fabric dye, to make incense, and to stain wood. The island’s bottle tree, adapted to store water in a dry climate, has a thick trunk, and its few limbs, thick near the trunk, give rise to clusters of much thinner branches ending in thick clumps of green leaves.

Surrounded by turquoise water, the island features huge limestone caves, homes to bats, the only mammal native to Socotra. Messages in a variety of languages have been carved into the caves’ walls. Researchers attribute them to sailors who stayed on the island between AD 1 and 6. The residents of the mysterious island are also unique: They all have a DNA haplogroup possessed by no other people on Earth, and some contend that the Garden of Eden was originally located on Socotra. In 2008, the UNESCO named Socotra a World Heritage Site.

3Diego Garcia

Photo credit: NASA

The vaguely U-shaped, 44-square-kilometer (17 mi2) atoll in the Indian Ocean known as Diego Garcia has thick, tropical jungles and white sand beaches. It was home to 2,000 native Chagossians, until the British government forcibly relocated them between 1968 and 1973 so that the US could build a naval base there in exchange for Britain’s agreement to lease the island, which is of strategic importance because it’s located between East Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, allowing the US to strike locations in both Asia and the Middle East.

Diego Garcia was used to stage air support operations during the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq war. The remote, restricted island, some contend, is also the site of a secret US prison camp, although American authorities deny the truth of such speculations.

2Partridge Island

Photo credit: Fralambert

Canada’s Partridge Island, located off the coast of Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick, became a quarantine station in 1830. Immigrants stayed there, upon their arrival in Canada, to ensure that they didn’t spread shipboard diseases to Canadian citizens. Thousands of immigrants came to Canada during 1847’s Great Famine, and 2,500 Irish immigrants were quarantined on Partridge Island.

The diseases against which the quarantine guarded from spreading included cholera, typhus, smallpox, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and measles. Newly arrived immigrants were subjected to kerosene showers followed by showers in hot water. Many were sick, and Partridge Island couldn’t handle the huge numbers who came to Canada during the peak of the Irish Potato Famine. The influx of thousands of Irish earned the island the nickname “Canada’s Emerald Isle.”

Quarantined immigrants who died of disease were buried on the island, on one occasion in a mass grave, the grass over which was rumored to be of a more intense green than the surrounding lawn because the bones of the dead had nourished it. Closed in 1941, Partridge Island became a mysterious place “visited” only through photographs.

1Easter Island


Hoping Easter Island would give up its answer to their question as to how islanders had once lived there, farming thousands of miles from any continent, a team of researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz used paleogenomic research to determine the genetic history of the Rapa Nui, as Easter Island’s lost people are known.

It was believed the Rapa Nui interbred with South Americans well before Europeans arrived on Easter Island in 1772, but to the surprise of the UC Santa Cruz team, the materials from museums they tested indicated no contact between the Rapa Nui and South Americans before the arrival of Europeans, which earlier studies had, making the team’s finding somewhatcontroversial. If the results of their research prove to be correct, it’s clear that the Rapa Nui didn’t have help from South Americans in creating and moving the island’s heavy moai. Unaided, the Rapa Nui carved and moved them themselves.

Raiders who kidnapped Rapa Nui to sell as slaves reduced their population from thousands to barely more than 100, and infighting and disease wiped out the rest, leaving their origin and, until recently, the creation of their statues, secrets as mysterious as the island itself.